Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Lavender is a Mediterranean plant long and widely valued for its tenacious floral-woody perfume (from a mix of flowery linalyl acetate and linalool, plus eucalyptus-like cineole), but more familiar in soaps and candles than in foods; its name comes from the Latin for “wash.” Still, the dried blossoms of Lavandula dentata are a traditional ingredient in the mixture herbes de provence (along with basil, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, and fennel). They and the blossoms of English lavender, L. angustifolia, are also useful alone when used discreetly as a garnish or to infuse their qualities in sauces and sweets. Spanish lavender (L. stoechas) has a complex scent reminiscent of Indian chutneys.